Post-9/11 Hospital Emergency Preparedness

Hospital emergency preparedness since 9/11 have come a long way, according to a recent www.newsworks.org article by Mark Lambdin, director of Emergency Management at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Hamilton, N.J. While before 9/11, many acute-care hospitals only utilized basic disaster plans for such incidents as loss of power or fire, today nearly all U.S. hospitals rely on comprehensive emergency planning.

Many of these plans rely on subject matter experts who analyze a hospital’s disaster preparedness and then design plans to prevent or mitigate an event’s impact on the location. Next, response plans to an event are created and communicated through training programs.

According to the article, “Ten years ago, a typical disaster drill at a hospital was rarely more complex than a standard fire drill. Modern disaster exercises incorporate extensive collaboration with first responders, including law enforcement agencies, fire departments, Hazmat teams, and EMS crews.”

In his article, Lambdin pointed out that one of the greatest lessons learned after 9/11 involved the coordination of information delivery and that redundant communications systems are necessary.

“I am pleased to see that communications have improved dramatically,” Lambdin said. “Today, in addition to traditional phone lines, hospitals employ Internet-based communications systems that can aid the rapid sharing of critical information among multiple partner agencies with the click of a mouse.”

To promote collaboration, many hospitals throughout the U.S. have adopted the National Incident Management System (NIMS), which provides a standardized, proactive approach to incident response and event management.

“Adoption of a standard methodology ensures that different organizations build their emergency plans in ways that promote integration, leading to better communication among responding agencies during a disaster,” Lambdin added. “This integration has fostered improved relationships between hospitals and Municipal, County, and State government Offices of Emergency Management (OEM). Now, when various agencies are called upon to respond to a disaster, stakeholders may draw from established partnerships rather than meet for the first time at the incident scene.”

For more information about how hospital emergency planning and response has changed during the past decade, visit: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/remembering-9-11-/item/26440-hospital-emergency-preparedness-then-and-now